How to make Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves

Dolmadakias. Dolmades. Dolmas. Simply put – Greek stuffed grape leaves.

I love these little things! I mean, just look at them. So cute and so flavorful. Little stuffed pockets of rice mixed with fragrant herbs… all rolled inside a grape leaf.

Greek stuffed grape leaves

And bonus! They’re vegan! But you can add minced meat to them if you’d like. They go both ways. (Wink.) They’re your perfect dinner party hor d’oeuvre.

What guest wants to eat something from that frozen box of “Fridays” appetizers anyway?! Plus, They’re SO EASY to make!

Greek stuffed grape leaves

The first time I ever ate a dolma I was with my parents. We went to a Mediterranean grill restaurant across from a Laser Tag building in my hometown. I was 10. I never in my childhood life seen anything like it.

Greek stuffed grape leaves

I was a little nervous to try something different but went ahead and stuffed the whole thing in my mouth (God forbid I should have taken one bite first – choking hazard! – these things are usually a two bite delicacy) and I immediately fell in love with them.

Greek stuffed grape leaves

Years pass, I end up moving to Greece and now I can stuff my face with loads of them. I figure I may as well learn how to make them at home, since every time we go out to eat I order a plate of dolmas. Or two. Don’t judge. They’re delicious.

Greek stuffed grape leaves

So I finally got the nerve to make these things because, let’s be honest, they look pretty intimidating to make.

Surprise! They’re not! They’re SUPER easy! You just need to know exactly what to get to make them. And that’s why I’m here to help you out!

Greek stuffed grape leaves

We went to our local organic farmers market in Chania (this farmers market is amazing!!) and stumbled upon a lady with a giant heap of wild herbs in front of her; all laid out and scrambled on a table, right next to a pile of ready-blanched grape leaves.

I figured, THIS woman knows how to make dolmas. (Duh. Of course she does. She’s Greek.)

Chania farmers market

I watched her in amazement as she picked through the pile of herbs; she knew exactly what she was picking! She probably had over twenty different kinds of wild herbs. It was pretty fun to watch, I wont lie. And of course, they’re all wild and organic! It seriously couldn’t get any better than that!

Grape leaves, both raw and blanched

After informing her what I wanted to make, she immediately grabbed several bags and went to work with picking me fresh, organic, wild herbs along with instructions on how to make dolmas.

ingredients for dolmathakias YouTube play

 She also showed me how to roll them. Here’s how you roll:

(I find that pictures are easier to follow than my instructions… so please follow photos below)

Greek stuffed grape leaves

Greek stuffed grape leaves

Greek stuffed grape leaves

Greek stuffed grape leaves

Greek stuffed grape leaves

Now of course there are many ways to make these little bundles of joy.

You can add ground lamb meat or keep it out (that’s what I did), and you can add different kinds of herbs. Play around with it… and if you do, let me know what you come up with in the comments below!

Greek stuffed grape leaves

But for now, I’m going to give you the easy, basic “gold-standard” recipe. Straight from a Greek lady. Enjoy!

Now wanna make something sticky and sweet?! Try out my Greek Baklava recipe!

How to make Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: aprox. 10

Serving Size: roughly 5-10 pieces


  • 60 grape leaves - washed and patted dry (if fresh, blanche for 5 minutes)
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil + ¼ cup
  • 1 ½ cup arborio rice (or any short grain white rice)
  • (about) 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • (about) ½ cup chopped fresh fennel (or you can use dill)
  • (about) ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • (about) 3 long green onions - chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ cup vegetable or chicken stock (I use chicken stock)
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • large skillet
  • large base stockpot with medium height sides


  1. Take grape leaves (either fresh or out of a jar) and snip any extra stems off the leaves and discard.
  2. Blanch leaves if they are not already prepared.
  3. Rinse under cold water, pat dry.
  4. Place large skillet on stove top and add 2 tbsp olive oil along with rice, freshly chopped parsley, fennel, green onion and mint.
  5. Saute for about 5 minutes - constantly stiring mixture (add salt/pepper to taste)
  6. Add juice of ½ lemon and add ½ cup chicken stock or veggie stock. Cover and cook for aprox. 10 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed in the rice. (check frequently) Once done, remove skillet from heat.
  7. Place one grape leaf down, shiny side down/vein side up.
  8. Place aprox 1 tbsp of rice mixture near leaf base.
  9. Starting at leaf base, fold leaf up over rice, then fold each side inwards, then continue to roll tightly up, making sure the leaves are tucked in on each side, folding into a cigar shape.
  10. Line the bottom of a large stockpot with irregular/broken grape leaves (you'll have a few) to prevent sticking.
  11. Arrange dolmas in stockpot, side by side in rows so they lay slightly snug, but not jammed. You can add dolmas on top of the others if there is no more room at the bottom of the stockpot.
  12. Add remaining olive oil and lemon juice on top of dolmas.
  13. Add remaining chicken or veggie stock until it slightly covers all dolmas (if you run out of liquid, you can add straight water).
  14. Cover stockpot and simmer gently for 45 mins to an hour.
  15. Keep checking every so often in case you need to add more water/turn down heat. It boils very quickly and if it boils, you risk the chance of each dolma breaking and opening up.
  16. The dolmas are ready when you can easily pierce a fork through them.
  17. Serve immediately (once slightly cooled) with a dallop of plain Greek yogurt.
  18. Enjoy!


Remember that even though you start off with 60 grape leaves, some might be a lot smaller than others, so please add amount of rice accordingly, because the rice expands in the stockpot!